Our Lady Gate of Heaven Catholic Church

Our Lady Gate of Heaven Catholic Church was founded in 1927 on the west side of Detroit by Irish and Polish immigrants. A small hall was built on the corner of West Chicago and St. Mary's. A combination school and church was built in 1946, administered by the Adrian Dominican sisters. Having outgrown the original buildings, the original church on the corner was demolished a new sanctuary and convent were built in 1946.

By 1986 though, the church had just 150 families. The parish was one of 43 recommended for closure in September of 1988 by the Detroit Archdiocese, but instead began sharing a priest with St. Suzanne, located only a few blocks away. The school appears to have closed by that point, but in 1994, the it was leased to Detroit Public Schools, and reopened as Erma Henderson Lower School. In 2003, Our Lady Gate of Heaven merged fully with St. Suzanne parish, moving out and leaving the church empty.

Fountain of Life Community Church was founded in 1998, based out of a storefront on Puritan Street. In 2005, the church bought Our Lady Gate of Heaven church and school from the archdiocese. Fountain of Life didn't last long, however, and by 2011 the church was vacant again.

Kenneth Tate, pastor of Body of Christ Christian Center had been interested in buying Our Lady Gate of Heaven for 10 years, watching the selling price go from $1.3 million down to $800,000, $500,000, then down to $350,000. In 2013 he put a bid on it, but lost out. When the prospective buyer backed out, the owners then called and asked him to make an offer. $50,000 bought the church, which by then had been vacant for two years and had been damaged by scrapping. After a few months of restoration, the church reopened on September 15th, 2013.

H/T to Sean Doerr of Buildingsofdetroit.com